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April 23, 2013
Ma Jian and Isabel Hilton in conversation: China's literary dissidents and F: Hu Feng's Prison Years
Waterstones Picadilly
April 23, 2013
7.00pm -
Waterstones Picadilly
203-206 Piccadilly
London, W1J 9HD United Kingdom
An English PEN supported launch event

Despite being virtually unknown in the West, in China, Hu Feng is an important literary figure. Ma Jian, exiled author of many books including Beijing Coma and his latest The Dark Road will be in conversation with writer and broadcaster Isabel Hilton, to discuss the life and tragic unravelling of China's first literary dissident. The event is dedicated to China's dissidents who remain under repression.

F: Hu Feng's Prison Years is a powerful and intimate portrayal of Hu Feng's dramatic life, told by his devoted and courageous wife Mei Zhi. Also a stark account of the inhuman prison system and life under Mao, F is at once beautiful and harrowing.

Under the Communist Party's control of writers, Hu Feng soon became a marked man for his thoughts on literature and art. Though he believed that literature should contribute to social transformation, he objected to Mao's narrow consignment of literature to the servitude of politics. He was denounced and persecuted as "counter-revolutionary" for insisting on the subjective nature of creative writing and intellectual freedom. After languishing for twenty-five years in prison, in terror and madness, he was rehabilitated posthumously in the 1980s.

Tickets £3, includes glass of wine on arrival. Please purchase tickets instore, or the phone or by emailing events@piccadilly.waterstones.com

This event is made possible with support from English PEN

This book has been selected to receive financial assistance from English PEN's Writers in Translation programme supported by Bloomberg. English PEN exists to promote literature and its understanding, uphold writers' freedoms around the world, campaign against the persecution and imprisonment of writers for stating their views, and promote the friendly co-operation of writers and free exchange of ideas. For more information visit www.englishpen.org.

Ma Jian was born in Qingdao, China in 1953. He worked as a watch-mender and a painter of propaganda boards and was assigned a job as a photojournalist for a state-run magazine. At the age of thirty, Ma Jian left work and travelled for three years across China, a journey he later described in his book Red Dust, winner of the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award 2002. He left Beijing for Hong Kong in 1987 but continued to travel to China, notably to support the pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989. After the hand-over of Hong Kong he moved to Germany and then London, where he now lives. Books by Ma Jian translated in English include his novel, The Noodle Maker, his short story collection about Tibet, his critically-acclaimed masterpiece, Beijing Coma; and Stick Out Your Tongue, the book which prompted the Chinese government to ban Ma Jian's work and which set him on the road to exile.

Isabel Hilton is a London based writer and broadcaster, and founder and editor of www.chinadialogue.net, an innovative, fully bilingual Chinese English website devoted to building a shared approach on climate change and environmental issues with China.

Based in London, with offices in Beijing, Delhi and San Francisco, chinadialogue launched in 2006 and is now recognised as a unique, independent source of information on environmental and climate issues, widely read in China, South Asia and in more than 200 countries around the world. She was appointed OBE in 2009 for her contribution to raising environmental awareness in China.